Democrats countered that Republicans had obstructed all measures to ease prices for US consumers. Soaring oil industry profits – and CEO salaries – are sparking so much resentment among voters that Republicans may be forced to change their votes as the issue comes up again closer to the November election, they added.
"This idea that we [Democrats] don't want any production is patently incorrect," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D) of New York, flanked by a poster claiming that Republicans are blocking lower energy prices, in a floor speech on Thursday. "We're willing to increase production, but we do not believe that we can drill our way out of this problem.
"The minority [party] is filibustering themselves right out of their seats when three-quarters of Americans demand dramatic change and the minority says no change. That is not a formula of political success," he added.
On the House side, similar partisan fireworks broke out Wednesday in a hearing on oil supply and demand in the Select Energy Independence and Global Warming Committee. Chairman Edward Markey (D) of Massachusetts blasted the "oil president and the Republican Congress" for the rise in oil prices. Republicans blamed Democrats for blocking exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and the Outer Continental Shelf.